Commerce Committee passes through Dorgan/Lott bill


Time is winding down for Congress in 2007, but Dan Inouye (D-HI) has promised to try to get the Byron Dorgan (D-ND)/Trent Lott (R-MS) Media Ownership bill down to the Senate floor for a vote, following its easy passage through the Commerce Committee yesterday. The bill, S.2332 "Media Ownership Act of 2007," would prevent Martin’s desire to bring up the elimination of cross-ownership restrictions in the top 20 markets at the Commission’s 12/18/07 open meeting. It would require 90 days for comment and reply (Martin’s schedule allows for about a month), and would also require completion of proceedings on localism and minority/female/socially-disadvantaged businesses, with another 90-day comment period, pushing any vote back to May 2008 at the earliest.

Dorgan said he’s upped the co-sponsor tally to 17 now. He quoted an FCC internal memo which seemed to indicate that studies would be created to support deregulation, rather than being agenda-neutral. He was also critical of the process, saying it was inappropriate that rather than printing the new cross-ownership rules proposal in the Federal Register and allowing ample time for public scrutiny and comment, the change was publicized in the New York Times and an FCC press release, and put on a short-term 30 day comment period.